Packers Send Clear Message on Rookie Ahead of Bucs Matchup

LaFleur Doubs Bucs

Getty Packers head coach Matt LaFleur expects a bigger role for Romeo Doubs in Week 3.

Romeo Doubs could finally get his moment to shine when the Green Bay Packers head to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers in Week 3.

The Packers have been shorthanded at wide receiver throughout the week with Sammy Watkins (hamstring), Allen Lazard (ankle), Christian Watson (hamstring) and Randall Cobb (illness) all missing time at practice for one reason or another. The result has been increased practice reps for guys like Doubs, Amari Rodgers and Samori Toure.

Now, Green Bay could still have several of its top guys available — as Lazard and Watson both returned to practice for Friday’s final session — but head coach Matt LaFleur said they won’t make some of those decisions until about “90 minutes before kickoff” at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 25. And either way, LaFleur made it clear the Packers will be counting on Doubs specifically against the Buccaneers.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in him,” LaFleur told reporters on September 23. “He’s a guy that, you see it out at practice, he can run all day. In terms of a conditioning standpoint, we have no reservations whatsoever. And I think he’s mentally always engaged, he’s locked in. Certainly, he’s going to have to take more of a load this week.”

Doubs Currently Leads All Packers WRs in Targets

The Packers may more pronounced role in mind for Doubs with the expectation that they could be down a few receivers against the Buccaneers, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t gotten his fair share of the passing targets through the first games of his rookie season. The fourth-round pick out of Nevada has been targetted eight times over the Packers’ first two games — more than any other receiver — and secured six receptions for 64 yards. He also went in motion and took one carry for a 12-yard gain.

Part of the reason for Doubs’ early success can be attributed to the work he put in during training camp when additional reps fell his way. Watson — the Packers’ second-round pick — was sidelined in recovery from a minor offseason knee surgery, leaving Doubs plenty of opportunities to distinguish himself and build rapport with veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He also continued to thrive without Rodgers, catching eight passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns from Jordan Love in the preseason.

Of course, all that matters is what Doubs can do for the Packers when counts, like this Sunday against the Buccaneers. While both LaFleur and Rodgers have preached patience when it comes to the rookie receivers, big-time players emerge in big-time moments, and the Packers could have plenty of those against one of the toughest competitors in the NFC. The sky surely won’t fall if Doubs can’t capitalize, but a good game would go a long way in setting him up for a pivotal role in the future.

Packers Likely to Elevate Winfree or Fulgham

The Packers might offer a bit more clarity on their expectations at receiver in Week 3 when they issue their final injury report on Friday afternoon, but LaFleur’s comments about waiting until right before kickoff to make their final decisions give the impression that at least one of the Packers’ two practice-squad receivers — Juwann Winfree or Travis Fulgham — will be elevated to the game-day roster before Sunday.

Winfree was already called up once in Week 1’s opener against Minnesota to reinforce the receiving corps while Lazard was sidelined with an ankle injury. He only played on nine snaps, but he did haul in a 17-yard reception and was clearly a more trusted option for them than Samori Toure (inactive) and Amari Rodgers (zero offensive snaps). The Packers only have two more allotted elevations for Winfree before he must be signed to the active roster to play again, but there’s no time like the present.

As for Fulgham, the 27-year-old receiver is far more accomplished than Winfree in the NFL after leading the Philadelphia Eagles in receiving yards (539) in 2020. The Packers, however, don’t seem to trust him as much as Winfree considering they had waived him on Tuesday before electing to bring him back on Thursday due to their injuries. Maybe Fulgham will get an elevate so that the Packers can save one of their two remaining ones for Winfree, but it seems unlikely unless they call up both of them for Sunday.

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